Published on June 24, 2013 at 8:00 pm
By BECCA MAILE
How many people have told you, “Oh the job market is really tough these days, good luck finding a job!” Being a college senior brings its own anxieties, but one of the most prominent of these anxieties is finding a job after graduation. It used to be a fact; if you went to college, you had a very high chance of getting a job. Today, the odds are against us more than ever, thanks to budget cuts everywhere. Wanting to become an art teacher brought on its own judgments and negative commentary, as art is one of the first things to get cut within a school district. With all the budget cuts in New York State, I was told I would not find a job right away. Despite what these people told me, I landed a job three days after graduation! I am now one of the proud, full-time art teachers at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Massachusetts!
How did you find this job? Did they contact you or did you contact them?
Senior year, spring semester, I immediately got involved with the college’s Career Center on campus. I built a resume with them and they told me about the Education Expo in April. A friend of mine who graduated a year before me from Saint Rose landed an art teaching position because of her interactions at the Education Expo and she encouraged me to go and make it worth my time. I signed up for the expo and went prepared with 20 plus resumes to distribute and hoped that there would be at least one school looking for an art teacher. To my excitement, there were 3 out of 25 schools looking for one. I went to those schools first and tried my best to convince them I would be a strong candidate for their school. I also made it a point to utilize the time I had at the expo to talk to all the schools, regardless of whether they wanted an art teacher, just to gain experience with interviewing. I talked to every school at the expo and I stayed the entire time.
At the expo, I talked to a man from a school in Massachusetts. He straight out told me he did not have an art position, but if I wanted experience with interviewing he would be more than happy to talk to me. I did an interview with him for about 30 minutes and thanked him for his time. Out of the blue about three weeks later, this same gentleman had his Principal e-mail me. When he got back to Boston, one of the art teachers quit and since he had such an in-depth conversation with me, he recommended me for the position. From there, I had a phone interview with the Principal a week later, which lasted over an hour and a half, and the Tuesday after graduation I went to Boston to teach a class for the Principal and supporting faculty involved with hiring me. They offered me the job on the spot and were highly impressed with my portfolio. The position is full time with full benefits and it is a permanent position, so if I like it and I do well I can keep the position for as long as I would like.
Why Boston? If you have family here, will it be hard to leave them?
I never dreamed about teaching out of state or moving. I am a “homebody” and I have a large family where I am from. The town I grew up in was very small and I knew almost everyone. I had a plan of teaching in New York and commuting from home to save some money. I applied to every art position offered on the OLAS website and had about 30 plus resumes out. I was very excited when the Principal of Mystic Valley Regional Charter School e-mailed me because it opened a new door of possibilities I had never considered. Everything fell into place and it was an offer I felt I could not pass up. It was an unexplainable feeling; it was meant to be for me.
What do you picture your first year to be like?
I think the first year will be challenging, yet exciting. Any teacher I have spoken to always says that their first year of teaching was their most challenging. A teacher learns the ropes, learns their techniques, and their true methods of teaching all at once. I am anticipating it will be the same for me. I think my biggest challenge is going to be trying to learn the Boston accent! When I taught the class during my interviewing process, my students were giggling because I pronounced my “r’s.” In fact, one student asked me if I was from New York! I guess I stood out like a sore thumb! Regardless, I am very excited for the challenge and to work with my future students. I am excited to build memories similar to that experience that I can remember for the rest of my teaching career.
What do you think are some of the most important things Saint Rose has taught you that you will incorporate in your classroom?
Most of my experiences from Lab Teaching and Student Teaching will be incorporated into my classes. It was within these experiences that I learned to be flexible and learned strong classroom management techniques. When teaching art, there is not always a guarantee that you will have a classroom, so how do you adapt your lessons to this type of situation? This solution I learned first-hand in Lab Teaching, where we brought art into the classrooms at Blessed Sacrament School. We learned how to make visuals that could stand on their own and how to create an art room in a non-art environment. At my new job, I will be teaching in a similar way, where I will be going into classrooms, rather than having students come to the art room. Thanks to Lab Teaching, I have a bunch of strategies and solutions to help me teach!
Saint Rose taught me how to reach out, be a leader, help others, and be open minded to every situation presented to me, whether in a classroom or socially. It also taught me how to look for answers and problem solve when the answers may not be clearly defined for me. Through my classes at Saint Rose, I acquired a large collection of textbooks, which are very helpful to solving any issue that may arise in the classroom. I reference these texts often (no, I did not sell back my education books), and apply them to my teaching. I feel that the texts, my experiences, and my connections to the amazing people I met at Saint Rose are all together what will make me a strong individual and teacher as I move forward in my teaching career.
What grade(s) will you be teaching? Do you know any of your co-workers? Do you feel there will be a high sense of community in your school?
I will be teaching a mixture of grades. I will have some kindergarten, some first grade and all of sixth, seventh and eighth grades! I am very excited, as I LOVE kindergarten and first grade, but middle school is my favorite age group to work with, based off my Student Teaching and Lab Teaching experiences.
I do not know any of my co-workers. In fact, I do not know anyone other than the Principal and the Human Resources Director that I met at the Education Expo. I have been told that this school has a strong sense of community and it was very apparent when I went to visit the school. Everyone I met said “hello” to me and welcomed me warmly. I am looking at this experience as one similar to college, where I will make friends as I go along. Every experience is what you make it to be; if you remain positive and have a positive outlook, you will have a positive experience.
Do you think it will be different than student teaching? If so, how?
I think this experience will parallel student teaching, but will be different in its own ways. For one, I do not have a cooperating teacher to guide me through the experience. However, I will have a mentor who can help me along the way. In Student Teaching, I had a lot of freedom as to what kind of lessons I could create and implement in the classes I was teaching. At this school, they have a strict curriculum of topics I will be following. I have the freedom to teach the material however I wish, but the core material must be taught within my lessons. The guide I have also shows me what kinds of lessons other subjects are going to be teaching while I am teaching art, which opens up new doors for interdisciplinary lessons and creative ways to intergrade the subjects.
Advice for Upcoming seniors and seniors who have graduated:
Without a doubt, be involved and in touch with the Career Center at Saint Rose. Use it as a resource! The staff and faculty there are very kind and supportive! They helped me tremendously with building a resume, getting letters of recommendations together, and being aware of what opportunities were available in the job realm. My second and last bit of advice is to remain positive and do NOT give up. Life will take you where you need to go, so do not worry and do not beat yourself up. Try again and again until you achieve your goals. They may not happen as quickly as mine did, but use the time you have to enjoy life, be happy and work hard to keep trying.
Interview was conducted by Features Editor Regina Iannizzotto